EU may introduce free Inter Rail ticket

The possibility of a free European train ticket for 18-year-olds has been included on list of priorities for the 2018 EU budget

EU may introduce free Inter Rail ticket

A general view of Berlin Hauptbanhoff - Berlin's central railway station, 04-Mar-2017. Image: Omer Messinger/SIPA USA/PA Images

The European Parliament has moved a step closer to introducing a free Inter Rail ticket for every EU citizen upon their 18th birthday.

The parliament voted on its priorities for the 2018 EU budget today and the free ticket for 18-year-olds has been included on the list.

The government’s spokesperson on EU affairs Neale Richmond welcomed the news – although the vote is just the first step towards deciding budget policy.

“It sets out the line that Parliament expects the Commission to take when drawing up its budget proposals and any proposal included in this is certainly a promising beginning,” he said.

He said he met with German MEP Manfred Weber, the architect of the proposed scheme, in December and was “heartened to learn” that a pilot scheme aimed at school travel will take place this year.

“I am fully in favour of this programme’s aims in combating populism and extreme nationalism and was somewhat amused when I saw UKIP MEP’s coming out against this scheme,” he said.

He said the scheme has the potential to become “as successful as the Erasmus is for education.”

"As a student, I was very fortunate to travel across Europe on an Inter Railing ticket and it was that experience that plays such a large part in my belief in the greatness of the European project and the importance that, particularly now in the wake of Brexit, we fight for the survival and continuing strengthening of the EU,” he said.

The Commission is set to put forward its draft 2018 budget at the end of May before negotiations between Parliament and Council get underway.

“I am confident a scheme such as the free inter rail ticket on your 18th birthday which promotes and encourages consciousness of our Europe is needed now more than ever,” said Mr Richmond.